Curzon claim vital three points

National League North: Bradford Park Avenue 0-2 Curzon Ashton

Curzon Ashton took a huge step towards confirming their place in next season’s National League North with a deserved two-goal triumph over Bradford (Park Avenue).

In one of the few games to take place in front of supporters in all of Europe, Mark Bradshaw’s tactics worked perfectly as Mike Calveley put the Nash ahead right on half time.

The introductions of Fabio Tavares and Tunde Bayode in the second half proved decisive and it was Taveres who sealed the win late on with his first goal for the club.

What happens to the remainder of the season is yet to be determined with a meeting between the FA and the National League expected to take place on Monday. But for now, the Nash continued their good form which has seen them lose only once in their last seven and have now jumped up to 18th, 11 points ahead of the relegation zone.

After last week’s battling 1-1 draw with Boston United, Mark Bradshaw made only one enforced change to his starting line-up. Owen Watkinson begins his suspension after being sent off in that game and made way for the return of Nicky Wroe.

With all top level and many non-League games off, plenty supporters descended on the Horsfall Stadium for a crucial clash at the bottom of the National League North. Bradford had looked entirely doomed as short as a week ago before two shock wins over Chester and top of the table King’s Lynn gave them hope ahead of this fixture. Now back to 14 points from safety, this may have sealed their fate.

Both sides struggled to threaten in the opening 20 minutes before the Nash suffered an early blow when George Broadbent picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Danny Shaw, necessitating a hasty reshuffle.

Just moments later the hosts had to make a change of their own with Ryan Toulson coming on for the injured Nicky Clee and the substitutions nearly caught the Nash out as Cam Mason had to rush out of his goal to intercept a short back pass.

The game finally flickered into life on the half hour mark when Lewis Knight drilled just wide of Mason’s goal before Andy Halls responded with a rasping 25-yard effort which was well saved by Tom Nicholson.

On the stroke of half time, the Nash made the crucial breakthrough. Calveley controlled a superb pass over the top of the Bradford defence and showed fantastic technique to stroke the ball past Nicholson with the outside of his right foot.

All three Nash subs were made before the hour mark when Tunde Bayode and Fabio Tavares came on for Isaac Sinclair and James Baillie.

A pair of attacking changes which almost paid off immediately. After a Bradford chance in a crowded penalty area, Curzon broke at pace and only three crucial interventions from the home defence prevented Bayode setting up Tavares for the second goal.

Mason had had little to do all afternoon but had to be at his best when the ball broke for Stelios Demetriou in space on the left side of the area. His fierce effort was heading for the bottom corner before Mason clawed it away for a corner which was comfortably defended.

As the Nash defence soaked up the pressure heading into the closing stages, Bayode and Taveres were menacing outlets and the latter had already came close to scoring before he settled the game with five minutes remaining.

The build up was crisp and when Bayode found Tavares unmarked inside the area, the on-loan Rochdale striker provided an ice cool finish.

There was still time for Mason to pull off a remarkable one-handed save from a Priestley header and preserve an 11th clean sheet of the season.

Picture: (Cameron Mason picked up the Man of the Match Award for another standout performance)

By Sam Hendry

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